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Preparing for the worst

POSTED: May 24, 2011 11:47 a.m.
Photo by Calli Arnold/

Participants in the Effingham Hospital full-scale evacuation exercise practice moving an ambulatory patient — in this case, one of the 11 Career Academy student volunteers — from a gurney and onto a board to be placed on the school bus and transported.

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Effingham Hospital and other regional hospital tested their skills in the 2011 Region J Hurricane Evacuation and Re-entry Full Scale Exercise last week with help from 11 Effingham Career Academy students.

“It’s good that we were able to address flying debris from our modernization construction site in this evacuation drill because hurricane season is June 1, and we haven’t had to plan for debris in the past,” said Vickie Little, human resources director for Effingham Hospital.

In the event of a hurricane, the hospital would load seven school buses with ambulatory and regular patients and nursing home residents, after getting as many discharged as possible and contacting family members about evacuating residents of the nursing home.

The evacuation destination for the hospital’s patients, along with some staff, medications and supplies, is Augusta’s Bernie Ward Community Center.

This year was Effingham’s and a number of southeast Georgia hospitals’ year to be evaluated by the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health

The exercise plan was the culmination of seven months of planning and was focused on local hospital control coordination, critical decisions, notifications and the integration of state and federal assets necessary to save lives and protect health and safety.

Throughout the exercise, plan executors from the UGA College of Public Health injected unforeseen scenarios for participants to react to, such as a power outage or loss of communication.

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